Friday, January 5, 2018

Feeding the Neighbors

On November 20, I put up my first bird-feeding station in the yard. We already had a couple of our trusty window feeders up, but now we've got a nice big platform feeder and a hopper feeder, all stocked with sunflower seeds. There's plenty of room now for the neighborhood birds to come and get food!

The chickadees and titmice (what great explorers!) found the new feeders less than half an hour after I put them up. And since then, the feeders have become very popular with our local birds. Blue Jays visit in small noisy groups, and I very much enjoy seeing these beautiful birds (especially since they were basically absent from our yard over the summer):

I love all these fancy feathers:

And I didn't know Blue Jays had so many black feathers hidden behind their blue crests:

What a lovely bird:

House Finches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-Capped Chickadees, and Tufted Titmice have been the most common and consistent visitors to the feeders so far (along with the Blue Jays), but I've also seen several other birds taking advantage of this new food source: White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, American Goldfinches, and more recently American Tree Sparrows and a single Morning Dove (the dove was picking up dropped seeds on the ground).

All this localized activity also makes for a great opportunity to see these birds up close as they wait in nearby bushes and trees for their turn at the feeder. Here's an obliging Black-capped Chickadee:

And an adorable Tufted Titmouse:

I love these charismatic little birds:

Titmouse, could your head be any pointier?

This Downy Woodpecker might not have actually been heading for the feeder, but I still liked seeing him among the bare branches and old husks on the nearby Shagbark Hickory:

With more frequent and heavier snowfalls in recent weeks, the activity at the feeder has become even more intense. Juncos, especially, are all over the place now. A flock of a dozen or so American Goldfinches came through the yard this past Tuesday (January 2) and provided some competition for the juncos (what a fancy tail the junco in this next picture has):

It turns out that juncos can be rather bossy, though; here's a video of one of our juncos maintaining dominance on the platform feeder against goldfinch intruders:

And the birds were still as active as ever during yesterday's snow storm, despite heavy snow and gusting winds:

Here's one last video from the midst of yesterday's storm, with juncos getting blown all over in the battering wind:

I think our bird feeder setup is off to a great start! A couple of days ago, I added a few handfuls of peanuts, and they're already all gone, carried away one at a time mostly by tiny chickadees, titmice, juncos, and sparrows, to be pecked and nibbled into smaller pieces in the nearby bushes. (The jays and woodpeckers got at least a few of the nuts as well.) I'm looking forward to many more bird-filled days to come in our yard!